ZHE “CALVIN” SONG

Software Development Engineering Intern
Palo Alto, CA
Joined: 2018

You can’t read Calvin’s internship story and NOT feel amped up about Data Science.

What school do you go to?

Northeastern University – Seattle

What team are you interning for?

Data Science Platform

What are you working on or what will you be tackling while you’re here?

I’m working with the Data Science Platform Team in Palo Alto. We are responsible for building an end-to-end self-service platform to support Machine Learning/Data Science as a service at Groupon. Imagine that if you were a Data Scientist, how excited you would be if you had a unified, standardized solution that takes care of the entire data science lifecycle for you? That’s Holmes!

My project is part of this exciting platform, which focuses on building a generic data-ingest solution for click-stream data to be surfaced in real-time fashion. Every time a customer purchases a deal, or claims/redeems a deal at Groupon, an event will be generated and processed as “click-stream” event that is of my interest! I build real-time streaming data pipelines and API to consume, process, store, and expose click-stream data with a bunch of really cool cutting-edge technologies such as Apache Kafka, Beam and Spark, Redis, JTier (Groupon’s Java tier built on top of Dropwizard).

What’s been most surprising so far about interning at Groupon?

Before I started my internship at Groupon, I was prepared to do some of the “debug-oriented side projects” with the team. I figured since I was going to be an intern, the company may not trust me enough to assign important or high impact jobs to me. However, I was surprised from the first day I joined here; my manager went through the architecture of the entire platform built in our team and set up a series of interesting and challenging goals for me.

The DSP team is a new team that just formed maybe two weeks before I joined here, which means everyone in this team are actually building the platform (Holmes!) from scratch. As an intern, I am super excited that I can contribute and make impacts on the existing project with other full-time engineers. Everyday here I learned a lot from those talent and experienced people surrounding me, from coding practices to software development life-cycle, what a wonderful experience!

What’s the coolest thing you’ve accomplished so far this summer?

I built a generic real-time streaming data pipeline that’s running on top of Apache Beam to serve as a real-time solution for all click-stream events. The pipeline is meta data driven so it’s highly extensible for clients who need to customize the schema for specific event based on their requirements. How cool is that?!

What’s the most innovative technology you’ve experienced in your lifetime?

I was a graduate student majoring in bio-analytical chemistry before I decided to switch my career to computer science. During the time as a research assistant in a bio chem lab, I got the chance to play with one of the most advanced and innovative technologies in this world : Cryo-Electron Microscopy, which won the Chemistry Nobel Price in 2017. This was super amazing since it allows the researcher take real-time pictures of proteins that can’t be formed into large crystals!

Best book you’ve ever read?

Wuthering Heights

What’s the coolest thing you’ve experienced in the city you’re interning in?

I tried surfing in Half Moon Bay once. It was super cool and interesting with just a minor problem — I could barely stand up for more than three seconds.

What’s your most memorable Groupon moment or story so far?

My first day at Groupon is memorable to me. This is my first internship in my life and from the very first moment at Groupon I started working on a bunch of really cool projects!

What do your parents think you do?

My parents think I am developing “some programs” that keep sending the ads to customers…….